Over 30 evicted from Lucy Wright Park

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Lili Neubig, who was previously houseless, discusses the Shelter In Place program at Lucy Wright Park in Waimea Friday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Pua Niau waits in the pavilion at Lucy Wright Park in Waimea Friday following Bible study at the Shelter In Place site.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Wesley Hauanio gathers his items from behind the comfort station Friday at the Shelter In Place site at Lucy Wright Park in Waimea.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A couple moves their personal belongings Friday at the Shelter In Place site at Lucy Wright Park in Waimea.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    According to county Department of Parks and Recreation rangers, the areas with the yellow tape have been designated for cleanup Friday at the Shelter In Place site at Lucy Wright Park in Waimea.

WAIMEA — Under the shade of the pavilion at Lucy Wright Beach Park in Waimea, a Bible study discusses Hebrews 12:5-29.

The verse is best explained by Lili Neubig, who lives across the street from the park.

“This one was so very powerful because it’s talking about things that’s happening right now,” Neubig said. “They have to leave here. They have no place to go. They just have to let it go.”

Sitting with aunty Pua Niau, they wait for it to hit noon Friday, when park rangers said they will begin citing individuals for staying past the park’s designated closing time as a Shelter in Place facility.

In March 2020, the county designated five beach parks as Shelter in Place zones for the houseless community. At these encampments, people could apply for a monthly permit to set up a small campsite with amenities provided by the county, like access to a bathroom, running water and social services.

In February of this year, the county announced the disassembly of this program, used by over 200 individuals across the island. At the end of March, the first two of the sites, ‘Anini and Anahola beach parks, closed, displacing 80.

Lucy Wright closed at the end of April, forcing over 30 individuals out. Next to close with be Lydgate Park at the end of May, then Salt Pond Beach Park at the end of June.

Niau has been at the park for over a year. Without anywhere to go, she has made peace that she’ll be cited.

“I’ve been accepting this long before now. I’ve been through this process since I went homeless,” Niau said. “Staying in God’s word, He stays with you.”

This has been a safe place to live, Niau said, and people have mostly stayed to themselves, not getting into trouble or getting sick, which was the point of opening these beach parks: to limit the movement of the vulnerable houseless population.

“None of us got sick. We all stay healthy and safe within the dwelling of this park,” Niau said. “If we do travel outside of the park, it’s either the grocery store, laundromat or fishing. That’s about it. So far, it’s been good enough for all of us.”

Discontinuing the program without affordable-housing options puts people like Niau in a tough situation.

The county had hoped to set up a transitional, tiny-house community for the houseless, but the project was deemed unfeasible in the timeframe allowed for the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds.

“There’s many resources, but we’re limited to a lot since COVID,” said Wesley Hauanio, another Lucy Wright Park resident. “A lot of things got held back. Everything got shut down.”

Despite holding federal housing program rental vouchers, Hauanio and his wife have not been able to find a place to live. Now, they live in their car that was parked at Lucy Wright Park for over a year.

“I’ve seen this park go from nice, beautiful,” Hauanio said. “Now nobody like come here. It’s an eyesore. It’s the first thing you see coming down the bridge, and the last thing going out.”

Hauanio, as he grabbed his spare tires, said he wasn’t sure exactly sure where he’d go next. He doesn’t like to be a burden to friends or family, so he eyed Hanapepe.

“It’s either here or going to Salt Pond,” Hauanio said. “We’re houseless. If we go on the beach, (the state) will step in.”

Hauanio said a lot of the park’s residents faced drug addiction, and need to have those issues addressed.

“There are a lot of resources, but the footwork is one we got to do ourselves,” Hauanio said “Not a lot of them can do it.”

•••

Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.

18 Comments
  1. Kawika Anahola May 2, 2021 4:51 am Reply

    Sounds like it’s time to develop a viable life plan other than “Poor me, give me more”. Our parks aren’t dumpsters!!!


    1. CommonSenseish May 3, 2021 8:03 am Reply

      I agree. Majority of these people act like they have a right to these parks and beach sites and become aggressive slum lords. Maybe their stays there wouldn’t be so frowned upon if they cleaned up after themselves, didn’t spread out and didn’t try to stop other people (who pay taxes to enjoy these places). I don’t mind people “sleeping” in parks and beaches but when they try to claim land and turn it into a visible third world country they make themselves known and not in any positive way.


  2. Kawika Anahola May 2, 2021 5:46 am Reply

    Lucy Wright is is just plain “WRONG”.


  3. MisterM May 2, 2021 9:04 am Reply

    “If we do travel outside of the park, it’s either the grocery store, laundromat or fishing”.

    Unsurprisingly, nary a mention about going to work or looking for a job. Funny how these ‘homeless’ never seem to work.


    1. MissTurry May 2, 2021 1:21 pm Reply

      It’s almost like a main reason for becoming homeless might be losing own’s job!


  4. Pete Stanton May 2, 2021 9:36 am Reply

    And no money in the recently released budget to help these homeless??


    1. GlassHouse May 3, 2021 6:50 pm Reply

      it’s so great to read these articles from the comfort of your own home, peacefully enjoying your smartphone or computer… as you attack those who must not be so fortunate. it’s a great thing to look on and judge those who aren’t doing as well as you- I mean all you have to do is get up and go find a job- nothing too hard about that. and while you’re at it, find a place that you can afford on the generous $12 hour that-!too bad for you, without a college education, is what you are expected to receive. no worries though, the college degrees aren’t netting much more… yea, look at all those people. how come they’re here?! why are they here?! oh, maybe they have always been here, generations actually, oh but you didn’t notice bcz they had a place they could live in peace- maybe working a couple few jobs to make ends meet, as we do. so there was a shift in the world recently, it’s exposed the major chasm between the Haves and the Have Nots. oh now can you see what you have or what you have not? but no worries- you’ll be ok, as long as you can afford it.


  5. Kauaidoug May 2, 2021 10:10 am Reply

    How is somebody living in the park getting a job? There have been no jobs for virtually a year. How are these folks going to put up the move in costs, even if they could find a place. Surely you are aware of the housing shortage, affordable housing. We have a 57000 sq ft home with 25 bathrooms on this island and at the park we have 25 tents and one restroom. Something is wrong here..


    1. Kalawaia May 2, 2021 7:50 pm Reply

      Their have been organizations going there to feed the homeless and offer job opportunities, guarantee hire..99% walk away uninterested in the job opportunities.


  6. Raley Peterson May 2, 2021 10:41 am Reply

    Waimea has 2 parks. Kick the homeless out of one, and guess where they’re going to go.


  7. But what about grandma May 2, 2021 1:47 pm Reply

    Perfect example duality of “don’t you want to protect your grandma?” We must stay closed to protect our elders. Our mayor likes the optics of that one. Not so much all the elderly and less fortunate that have been homeless. Too bad so sad. Hold that paper mayor accountable. He’s more than happy to cow tow to king zukerberg. If you’re poor. They don’t care. You’re an eye sore. That’s the reality. Vote accordingly


  8. joebiddin May 2, 2021 2:49 pm Reply

    The County bought a chunk of land in Waimea across the Waimea Cottages. The County should relocate these people over there temporarily. So they’re being evicted to go nowhere but along the highways and byways and our beaches just to be kicked out again. So Mr. Mayor utilize that land until such time the County decides what to do with it.


  9. USAF Brat May 2, 2021 3:11 pm Reply

    Had the community been “paying attention” during the 2018 Mayoral voting rotation, this kukai would not have occurred! The Z, C, and hui o “cut bait” factions wouldve gone down with the “P.A. Oahu/COP guilty stolen mailbox” fraudulator hui(S) that prevails retroactively throughout Hawaii-nei. We are at war people!


  10. Norm Smith May 2, 2021 3:53 pm Reply

    the truth is Mark Zukerberg has more money than the homeless…. and Money talks B.S. Walks


  11. nobody May 2, 2021 9:36 pm Reply

    There are so many “Now Hiring” signs everywhere.


  12. Hirondelle May 3, 2021 9:59 am Reply

    The County has had more than a year to study the problem of being houseless in a pandemic…and the shelter in the parks plan has brought this longstanding issue to the forefront. How can we criticize homeless individuals for not planning better when the County and decision makers of the island have simply kicked this can down the road? Parks will continue to be a magnet for those without homes until 1) rules and regulations about camping are enforced; and 2) there are viable alternatives presented.


  13. DAVID May 3, 2021 10:30 am Reply

    Hard to believe the snarkiness and lack of compassion for the less fortunate among us in these comments. Tsk, tsk, tsk… people here getting their knickers in a knot over “a poor look” and thinking they know “how these people are” without ever talking to them instead of noticing the benefits to the entire island that this consolidation program has accomplished.

    Regarding the mayor, what doesn’t make sense to me is why now, when our daily Covid numbers are higher by far than they’ve ever been, are we disassembling the houseless camps that were put in place to help stop the spread of the virus?

    Mr. Kawakami, whassup? What about the protective health reasons the houseless camps were set up for in the first place? That was your good idea, right?

    Shouldn’t you be doubling down on the encampment model now instead of making things worse for the people who are already living on the edge? How you gonna monitor that sector of the community when they are all spread out? Are you getting pressure from the tourism industry lobbyists to make our poverty stricken community members less visible to visitors so they don’t write bad Yelp reviews?

    Seems like we are going from “not a good look” to not a good situation in the middle of a pandemic that seems like it’s starting to get the upper hand.

    Why the emphasis on the people who have obviously been abiding by the CDC guidelines instead of imposing mandatory quarantine on inter-island travel? If The Garden Island is giving us the true facts, 2/3rds of our community spread are directly traceable to Oahu, Maui, and to a lesser extent, Big Island.


  14. uamaukeeaokaainaikapono May 3, 2021 12:39 pm Reply

    i live in Waimea and saw the horrible mess they left behind, it made my heart race. All the freebies they were afforded by the County appears unappreciated. How do we educate these people? It makes me angry! Wishing someone from the news media or the County will take photos of the mess.


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